Guest Column | November 2, 2020

Low-Code & No-Code Tools: The Next Frontier For Merchant Services

By Andrea Kelemen, Optimist

Data Software Evaluation At Laptop

Low-code and no-code tools are the next technological leap for merchant service providers and VARs, democratizing technical skills and enabling non-technical workers to develop customized solutions for business owners.

Thanks to the accelerating trend of visual software development, it’s becoming increasingly accessible for non-technical workers and citizen developers to build custom software solutions. Considering the ongoing evolution in payments ecosystems — including the development of cross-functional payment methods for non-traditional business models — this new trend can speed up user-driven application development, keeping existing customers happier and bringing on new ones faster.

“By 2024, three-quarters of large enterprises will be using at least four low-code development tools for both IT application development and citizen development initiatives,” Gartner predicted in their late 2019 report.

Why Use Low-Code And No-Code In Merchant Services?

Merchant account providers face the technological challenge of adapting to business owners’ needs rapidly, daily. Be it custom-built integrations or third-party technologies, they always must be ahead of the curve to keep up the pace with the changing technological landscape. This is where low-code development comes into the picture: it provides the much-needed flexibility merchant account providers need to keep their existing customers happy and optimize their operations for more efficient sales and faster customer acquisition.

Moreover, because the needs of every business are different, merchant account providers need to mobilize substantial IT resources to cater to a wide range of industries. From offering custom point of sale solutions to customized appointment scheduling systems and invoicing, this often means developing complex workflows that work seamlessly offline and online, allowing business owners to keep up with the demands of a technologically competitive market.

Lowering The Barrier Of Entry For Innovators

Unlike traditional software development, low-code and no-code environments make use of drag and drop interfaces and visual workflows, lowering the barrier of entry for those who didn’t spend years of their lives learning different coding frameworks.

For example, merchant service providers that offer high-level support that responds to the individual needs of each customer are more likely to become established as reliable players in their field. And those workers who have experience working in customer-facing positions will be the best equipped to provide such personalized solutions.

Additionally, providing the means for those with an entrepreneurial mindset within the company to tackle technical issues might light a creative spark for inventing state-of-the-art solutions. With no-code and low-code tools, technological innovation can be democratized across different teams, which allows for better cross-team collaboration, increasing cognitive diversity, and leading to faster and more effective solutions.

Better Use Of It Resources

Developers are the ‘gatekeepers’ to many solutions that customer-facing workers might be better equipped to tackle. Low-code and no-code solutions can alleviate the workload on IT departments and empower non-technical workers to do the job. This also frees up valuable time for high-skilled developers and lets them focus on the complex technical tasks.

Furthermore, merchant service providers must deal with customers from a wide range of industries: retail, hospitality, professional services, and enterprise, just to name a few. This means catering for a wide range of needs and building hundreds of personalized solutions. If every customized solution comes out of the IT department mobilizing valuable developer resources, the costs can accumulate and hinder flexibility in meeting long-term business goals.

With low-code/no-code platforms, many requests can be met without engaging the dev team. Account managers can tweak the integrations of their accounts, front-end issues can be fixed by support, and custom landing pages can be built by the marketing department. Good-bye long development cycles and overloaded backlogs.

Not All Code Should Be No Code

Not all solutions can and should be tackled by low-code and no-code platforms. Many times, when customers need a solution that is built on an unstructured process — like optimizing their data models or adding developing new, complex features — traditional software development is a better choice. The same goes for highly specialized requests that need to cater to a high level of interactivity. While tasks requiring automation and workflow optimization are easy to tackle with no code, if the changes involve changing the codebase of the payment ecosystem, drag and drop solutions will not do the job.

It should also be mentioned that non-technical workers should not be expected to solve all technical issues because of the new-found affordances of visual software development. While low code and no code tools can be empowering, they also have a learning curve, and without an initial investment in training and a restructuring of workloads, non-developers will struggle to incorporate these new tools into their day-to-day work.

Considering the opportunities and downsides of the visual software revolution, we can safely say that no-code tools will increase the competitive advantage of merchant service providers if the onboarding of these tools is addressed strategically. While low-code/no-code tools will never be able to completely replace traditional software development in maintaining complex merchant service ecosystems, they will equip merchant service providers with enough flexibility to stay ahead of their competitors and delight their customers with quicker turnaround times and more user-friendly solutions.

About The Author

Andrea Kelemen is a Berlin-based writer and content strategist who occasionally writes for Optimist, exploring topics related to technology ethics and the cultural effects of digital media.